Why I think my best writing has nothing to do with me at all

I kind of hate to say this, but I think my best writing comes from another place totally beyond my control, my life, my consciousness. I’m talking about the kind of writing I read back the next day and think ‘where the **** did that come from?!’ (in a good way, I mean).

My flashes of inspiration come from a dark cave of pedestrian writing. (pic: istockphoto.com/rozbyshaka)

I know I have flashes of brilliance in my creative writing: times when I’m in awe of the written word to convey a feeling, a moment, a heartbeat. But those flashes are little chinks of light in what can sometimes feel like a dark cave of inane drivel and self-obsessed tosh.

Getting out of the way

I’ve realised that my best writing comes when I get out of the way. ‘I’ being the flesh and blood body I live in that has constraints, foibles and weaknesses. What comes through is another when I’m out of the way is a flow that melts onto my page as if it was meant.

I’ve been thinking of ways I can describe this, and it’s like steam clearing on a shower-room mirror to reveal words that someone has written with their damp fingertips. Or like a scratchcard that has the words already printed below. My job, as a writer, is just to rock up at my laptop and scratch away the surface with my typing to reveal the truth and beauty within.

Writing ‘in flow’ has a fragility that could easily be blown away on the breeze.

When I write like this – and it’s for copywriting as well as creative writing projects – it’s as though the writing is THROUGH me, not OF me. It’s as though my human body isn’t enough to produce writing that good. When I write consciously and labour over every word, the passion and the creativity aren’t there.

But this inspiration – or flow, or higher power, or unconscious mind, or whatever you want to call it – is fleeting. It has a fragility that could be caught in a whisper and blown away in the breeze.

Creativity

I’m convinced that creativity isn’t meant to be laboured. It comes naturally, as easily as breathing. Left to my own devices, I’ll be as creative as you like. Asked to ‘be creative on demand’ in a meeting, and my mind goes blank. Being in flow is a natural state where something bigger than me takes over. The writing comes. Beautifully. Majestically. Effortlessly.

I hesitate to call myself an ‘artist’, because I think that sounds rather grand and imperious for what I do, which is sit at my Mac all day. (When my daughter was about three and she was asked what mummy’s work was, she replied that ‘mummy types words’.) I love that description of what I do. No more than typing words onto a screen. It has a mindful quality to it, a groundedness that anchors all those thoughts and feelings flying around in my body. It nails them to the page.

Higher purpose

However, leaving my feelings about the word ‘artist’ aside for a moment, I think this quote from Carl Jung sums up in a soundbite what I’ve been trying to describe over the last 500 words:

“The artist is not a person endowed with free will,who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realise its purpose through him.”

I feel writing is my purpose. At least, my whole life is organised around my writing. And I feel totally blessed and humbled with a gift to get myself out of the way and let the creative energy flow.

Now, if only I could bottle it and spray it on just at those moments when I need inspiration.

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4 thoughts on “Why I think my best writing has nothing to do with me at all

  1. Your post reminds me of what Michelangelo said about his sculptures–something along the lines that he experiences the creation as being already in the marble and he’s just freeing it from the marble, chiseling away the extra marble so the piece can stand on its own. I think when we’re in a state of flow we experience it as coming from somewhere else, as if we’re just a conduit for the creative process.

    • I remember that famous quote from Michelangelo, but hadn’t made the connection with my own creative process. It’s the most amazing feeling to be in flow and trust what comes out from a place greater and more powerful than I can ever be.

      • Yes, I agree w/you. There are days when I wake up and I have a sense that I will either discover something new or that I will have an experience w/synchronicity. I tend to have more days like this when I’m remembering and writing down my dreams in the morning. That also helps to develop my intuition.

      • You’re right about dreams. When I’m remembering and recording them, the patterns emerge and my daily life has a richness and a depth. Some dreams hang around for days, waiting for their meaning to be discovered.

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